Workplace Wisdom

Life is Difficult. Find Your Joy.

Life is Difficult. Find Your Joy.

Life is a risky undertaking. To live with courage, strength, happiness and fulfilment, we also have to open ourselves up to challenges, pain and heartache. It is through the push and pull of our daily existence that we can be surprised by joy, discover our own resilience and experience our greatest successes.

Let’s talk about pain and joy, because we can’t have one without the other. These are the two sides of the coin of life.

I want to highlight two distinguished writers who grappled brilliantly with these concepts: M. Scott Peck and C. S. Lewis.

The eminent American psychiatrist, M. Scott Peck, explored pain in his best-selling book The Road Less Traveled. He explained that pain is a natural and normal fact of life, famously saying “the attempt to avoid legitimate suffering lies at the root of all emotional illness.”

C. S. Lewis was a British writer, literary scholar, and lay theologian. He held academic positions in English literature at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities in the UK. One of his many books was titled Surprised by Joy. Of joy he said, “It is never a possession, always a desire for something longer ago or further away or still ‘about to be.’ He went on to inspire us with the belief that “there are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

Let’s briefly explore pain and joy through the eyes of these two brilliant and humble men.

Peck: Life is difficult.

Lewis: Joy is about doing good.

Dr. Peck explains that the reality that “life is difficult” is one of the greatest truths of life and in fully accepting it we will free ourselves from the constraints of pain.

Many of us have come to believe that life should be easy and filled with happiness, and that pain is the exception, not the rule. This belief is what sets us up for disappointment, fear and emotional paralysis. Dr. Peck said, “What makes life difficult is that the process of confronting and solving problems is a painful one.”

C. S. Lewis, whose life, like all lives, was filled with heartache, loss and disappointment, discovered that “joy bursts in our lives when we go about doing the good at hand and not trying to manipulate things and times to achieve joy.”

Acceptance is one of the greatest tools of finding fulfilment, peace and joy. The ancient quote, “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” reminds us that accepting the difficulties and pain in our lives is the first step to healing, to letting go, and moving toward emotional and mental wellbeing. By focusing on the ‘good at hand,’ whether we are struggling or celebrating, we can always undertake small acts of kindness, and in these moments we may be surprised by joy!

Peck: Our finest moments are most likely to occur when we feel deeply uncomfortable, unhappy or unfulfilled.

Lewis: No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it.

Discomfort and pain are powerful motivators for change and growth. So instead of focusing on trying to avoid pain through social media posts and ‘likes’, acts of self-aggrandizement, ‘retail therapy,’ or other self-focused activities, looking outside ourselves, doing good and desiring joy can help ease our unhappiness.

Peck: We cannot solve a problem by saying, “It’s not my problem.” We cannot solve a problem by hoping that someone else will solve it for us.

Lewis: You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.

Dr. Peck explains that the only way to solve a problem is to acknowledge, “This is my problem and it’s up to me to solve it.” When we blame others or situations for our painful life experiences or our current situation, we abdicate our power to create the life we want.

You are completely and entirely responsible for your life, every aspect of it. Only you can change your life story. Give up blaming and complaining. Learn new perspectives, ideas, approaches and skills to solve your problems. It is up to you and you alone. Go ahead. Set new goals. Dream new dreams. And remember: Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the taking of action in spite of fear.

As a footnote, C. S. Lewis married the love of his life when he was 58. She died four years later from cancer. Her name was Joy. Of this loss he said, “The pain I feel now is the happiness I had before. That’s the deal.”

Donna and Stephanie

Donna Marshall, MA, RP
Dr. Stephanie Bot, C, Psych.

Be recognized as a leader in Workplace Mental Health
and earn 8 HRPA Professional Development credits.

Mental Health and Psychological Safety
at Work Certificate Program

Get Certified

Unlock Weekly Workplace Wisdom

Subscribe to our Newsletter today!

Endorsed by

Excellence Canada
Tom Beegan
Donna Marshall

Donna Marshall
M.A., Counselling Psychology, RP
CEO and Co-Founder

Dr. Stephanie Bot

Dr. Stephanie Bot,
C. Psych., Psychoanalyst
President and Co-Founder

Elevate Your Skills and the Skills of your team with Workright’s E-Learning!
Gain instant access to 100+ robust online Certification Programs that cover Compliance, Workplace Mental Health, Diversity, Harassment, Soft Skills, Leadership, and much more.

Don’t settle for the ordinary when you can learn from the extraordinary. Our seasoned licensed professionals boast over two decades of clinical expertise in Workplace Mental Health, Soft Skills, Compliance, and Harassment prevention. With their authoritative guidance and insights from industry veterans, you’re not just learning; you’re gaining mastery.

Join the high achievers who’ve chosen Workright’s E-Learning to steer their careers and their team towards success. Don’t wait for greatness – grab it now!

Visit us to LEARN MORE and embark on your transformative E-Learning journey.

Follow us social media

Upskill Your Team.
Let's Talk.



249 St. Clair West 1st Floor
Toronto, Ontario
M4V 1R3

Unlock Weekly Workplace Wisdom Subscribe to our Newsletter today!